|The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc.|
Protecting the rights of the Non-smoking majority
from tobacco smoke and from the tobacco industry's propaganda.
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Issue 8, September 1995
Tobacco Threatens Smoke-Free Flights
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) passed a motion in 1992 that called for a ban on smoking on all international flights by July 1 1996. This has been supported by the Smoke-Free Skies World-wide Campaign based in the US and co-ordinated by Fran Du Molle and Ken Kyle. They have just advised us that there is a threat of repeal or delay. Australia co-sponsored the resolution with Canada and has a four way agreement with US, Canada and New Zealand for smoke-free flights from 1st March 1995. All Australia's flights will be smoke-free from July 1996. Australia must therefore take a strong stand.
Action Point 1
Write to one or more of the following urging that Australia defend the smoke-free skies timetable.
Francey Urges Class Action on Tobacco
Neil Francey, the barrister who won the action of Leonie Cameron and 9 others against Qantas for failing to provide a smoke-free environment has announced a new class action on behalf of smokers against the tobacco companies. ASH and the Non-Smokers' Movement have had the phones running hot with people trying to get more facts after hearing it on the radio. As always some of the stories by people of the struggles against cancer or angina were quite heart-rending and over 50 people have asked to be joined in the action at last count.
There is cautious support for a tobacco litigation support fund from the medical bodies, but the amount of cash that this will be able to deliver is the question. Major charities have been very conservative to date and the medical colleges have not even been considered in the litigation game. However, if the colleges of law and medicine can give respectability to class action s as a legitimate health initiative, money may flow to a foundation if and when it is set up.
Overseas Legal Actions
In the UK Britain's Legal Board will grant support for 200 claimants in a class action against the tobacco industry. The plaintiffs include people with Buergers disease that causes gangrene in young men, and sufferers from lung disease. It took 2 years of applications and an appeal to the High Court to get the money. London Times 1/2/95 New Zealand has launched its first class action. David Collins, a Wellington lawyer is co-ordinating it, and trying to set up a fighting fund. ASH (NZ)
In the US over 60 law firms have combined to bring a class action on behalf of millions of smokers. It is called Catano v. US Tobacco. In Florida there is a group of addicted smokers seeking damages in Engle v. RJ Reynolds, and a group of flight attendants have a class action on the basis of exposure in aeroplanes in Broin v. Philip Morris. ASH(US)
NSW Billboards Go on 26th September
All NSW tobacco billboards are to be all removed by 26th September. If any are seen after this time it is crime. Please notify the NSW Health Minister of remaining billboards.
Action Point 2
NSW members please report any billboards seen after this date. Complain in writing and ask for prosecution. Alternatively, on 27th of September, any cigarette billboard in NSW is illegal. So if you've never spray painted one- get out the camera for the family album! Then complain. Members in states that still have billboards, ie. NT Queensland and Tasmania, will come under the Federal legislation that bans billboards from 31st December, so get ready for action there too. States that seem OK, please make sure that no drug pushers are trying for more 'Freedom'.
Kennett Seeks Grand Prix Exemption
Organisers of the 1996 Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix have asked for a exemption from the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act, so Australia can advertise like a 3rd World country as usual. The Minister has 60 days to decide. The Age 30/7/95
Action Point 3
Write to Federal Health Minister Carmen Lawrence and urge that she grant no exemption to the 1996 Melbourne Grand Prix, or at least grant it only to the level of the French or British Grands Prix. You could combine this in the same letter as Action Point 1 above.
News In Brief
Smoking will be banned in NSW gaols except in prisoners own cells from the end of this year if planned new regulations are implemented by Corrective Services Minister, Bob Debus. Quit courses will be offered to inmates and staff. Sunday Tele. 30/7/95
Prof. Simon Chapman has been tactless enough to point out that Australian tobacco companies are probably causing more cancer deaths in the Pacific than French nuclear tests. Smokers will get 8% higher annuities in a new deal from Stalwart Assurance of London. This is based on the fact that they die sooner. Herald Sun 9/8/95
Bill Keir, 59, an ex-Federal public servant was recently awarded damages by the Administrative Appeals tribunal. He retired due to bronchiectasis in 1978 at the age of 42 and passive smoking was a contributing factor. Thought the AAT is not a court, other cases are likely to apply. His solicitor was Slater and Gordon of Melbourne. Age 28/7/95.
75% of people surveyed by the ABS in the Northern Territory want smoke-free or restricted smoking in restaurants and shopping centres, despite 36% of the population smoking . Yet there is only one smoke-free shopping centre. NT News 4/8/95
After an aggressive push Philip Morris brands have 24% of the market in the former Soviet bloc, RJReynolds 12%, and BAT 10%. 1994 consumption was 575 billion cigarettes.
RJ Reynolds in Malaysia's profit rose 33% for the half year to the end of June. The Star (Malaysia) 27/7/95
China's tobacco consumption last year was 1 trillion, the US 525 billion and Japan 300 billion. Asian Wall St.J.4/8/95.
Newt Gingrich, Republican Leader in the US House of Representatives wrote to the Coalition on Smoking or Health some years ago endorsing regulation of tobacco by the FDA. He received money for his campaign from RJ Reynolds tobacco interests and now calls FDA Chairman, David Kessler 'a bully and a brute' for trying to regulate tobacco. Few believe that its a coincidence. ANR
Victor Crawford was a Maryland state senator, a trial lawyer and finally a tobacco lobbyist, paid up to $200 an hour to buttonhole old friends and persuade then to drop 'anti-smoking' measures. Now he is supporting Bill Clinton's health measures in a raspy voice. What's changed? He has throat cancer. International Herald Tribune 15/8/95 Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General, George Weber is preparing to sue US Tobacco for sending free samples of smokeless tobacco to minors. Asian Wall St J. 27/7/95
A Californian Court has ordered the state of California to return money from Proposition 99 to tobacco education. Prop 99 was a hard-fought referendum campaign in 1988 which created a new tobacco tax and insisted that at least 20% of it be used to create a tobacco and health education programme. The programme has been very successful with a 28% decline in smoking since (far higher than the rest of the US). However, in an unholy alliance the Californian Medical Association and the Tobacco Industry lobbied the state legislature to divert the funds from tobacco education to medical treatment. Americans for Non-Smokers Rights (ANR) sued and got a decision that $US128 million had to be returned to education. The State tried to contend that medical care was education to which the judge's comment was "one can't make a cat into a dog by calling it Fido..."
Anyone who thinks that the tobacco industry is losing should note that BAT Industries PLC, the UK-based multinational parent company of Wills, posted record profits. It had a 22% increase to $A2.5 billion (1.15 billion pounds) on sales of $A24.7 billion. Tobacco sales rose most with a 35% rise in sales to $A1,663 million and 57% increase in profits to $A724 million. International Herald Tribune 27/7/95
The US Attorney General Janet Reno has launched a criminal investigation into whether Philip Morris concealed evidence on its knowledge of the addictiveness of nicotine. A preliminary investigation was already taking place following complaints from a number of congressmen led by Martin Meehan that the tobacco executives perjured themselves before the congressional inquiry. AFR 27/7/95
A number of articles in the July 19th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) look at evidence that the tobacco industry knew the harmful effects of tobacco for 30 years while continuing to publicly deny this. Most recently the industry has hounded people that it thought had access to these documents in a last-ditch effort to prevent their becoming public. But they are now out! The editorial is 'The Brown and Williamson documents- Where do we go from here?' and the AMA asks for action. Brown and Williamson is part of the same company as Wills in Aust.
President Clinton has upheld the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recommendation that nicotine be classed as an addictive drug. This has considerable implications for the marketing of it. Clinton was also quite outspoken in his support for the measures on the basis that it would help reduce child smoking. He has a six point plan:
However the tobacco industry has two laws coming (S219 and HR9) to hinder regulatory agencies. The object is to stop the FDA regulating tobacco marketing and to stop OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health) regulating indoor air to be smoke-free. US tobacco firms have also filed 5 laws suits to stop the Clinton initiative. Age, Aust. 12/8/95
NSMA, ACOSH, AMA, ASH Call for Action
NSMA President, Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, and AMA president Dr David Weedon called on Prime Minister Keating to follow Clinton's lead and take stronger action against tobacco. But Health Minister Carmen Lawrence said that Australia was 'light years' ahead of the US on child sales and rejected calls for tougher laws. Age 12/8/95
Noni Walker of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) has asked the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee to follow the US FDA and classify tobacco as an addictive drug. At present nicotine is classed as addictive but smoking products are exempt from the laws.
In a different approach, the AMA President, David Weedon asked that tobacco be listed under the poisons schedule, a state act. Graham Kierath, the WA Health Minister was interested and said he would take proposals to the Health Ministers Conference. Aust. 12/8/95. West Aust. 27/7/95
Anne Jones of ASH has asked Federal Attorney-General Michael Lavarch to investigate the evidence given by tobacco executives to the Australian Senate inquiry into the tobacco industry, in view of the increased evidence of tobacco company knowledge that is appearing from the US.
Dr Chesterfield-Evans of NSMA requested that the Senate Committee itself do this immediately after the evidence was given in November, but the Inquiry has not yet done so, nor has it reported. Australian 28/7/95
Action Point 4
The AGM +Restaurant Night, Wed. 11 October La Rustica Restaurant, 435 Parramatta Rd., Leichhardt. AGM 6pm -free, Dinner 7pm, $35 ($28 concession). RSVP.
Lawrence Drops Generic Packaging
Federal Health Minister Dr Carmen Lawrence has rejected plans for generic packaging of cigarettes, saying that this would breach the constitutional requirement for free trade, and that the government would have to buy the tobacco industry's trademarks, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. AMA President, David Weedon has pointed out Canadian research showing that plain generic packs would weaken the link between tobacco promotions and the pack, leading to less recruitment of children to smoking. The College of Paediatrics asked that she review this decision and not take a 'defeatist attitude'. SMH 24/7/95
Francey Wins 66% of Qantas Costs
In the Stop Press of the last 'Update' Leonie Cameron and 9 others sued Qantas under the Trade Practices Act for misleading and deceptive conduct after they were sold non-smoking seats and then exposed to tobacco smoke. Though they won, the damages were very small and Judge Beaumont reserved his decision on costs. The political interpretation of this was that while these people were right, their damage was small and further large cases were not encouraged. The fact that there was a delayed decision on costs was taken as a symbol that lawyers working on a 'no win, no pay' basis were not to be encouraged either. However, the costs decision of 66% of what was claimed has strengthened the idea that justice was done, and that lawyers trying to help would not be penalised by not having their costs met. The issue was politically sensitive, coming just before the Qantas share float. However, there is an appeal....
Tobacco 'Price Wars' Undermines Quit
A 'price war', much hyped by the tobacco companies and the media, has done considerable harm to the quitting that may have been caused by the tobacco tax rise to 66%. Wills started the price discounting on May 10 and Rothmans and Philip Morris followed. At the end of the process there was $2 off the price of a packet. Rothmans claimed to have ended the war on July 17 by raising Winfield to the previous recommended retail price.
The way the tobacco companies went about it is an object lesson for tobacco control advocates. The government announced in the budget that tobacco tax would rise at the end of August. As most people were not sure of the implementation date, the companies put their prices up immediately. Thus they could blame the rise on the government. However, they were merely taking a bigger profit between the announcement of the tax, and its implementation. This gave them some extra cash to start 'discounting'- i.e. a price war. It is well known that smokers quit when a price rise is announced, rather than when they get a bit less change in their hand. So the announcement of the price rise was quickly followed by the announcement of a price war. So the smokers could think 'Oh well, it has not happened yet, so I might as well keep smoking till it does'. Then as they get more expensive the smokers think, 'Oh well, this shop just has not got the discounts - I'll buy them somewhere else next time.
With the well developed smuggling from Queensland, prices are always something of a lottery, so the smokers get over the time when they may have quit and the tobacco companies are still OK. The tobacco companies always provide a rationalisation for not quitting - this is another. Naturally enough the tobacco companies claimed that it was all about market share. Sunday Mail 23/7/95, Herald-Sun 3/8/95
The Non-Smokers Movement wrote to the Prices Surveillance Authority asking that it investigate the situation, but have not yet had a reply. The previous PSA examination of the industry's pricing was in 1994 and did nothing that made much difference to the present situation.
On the bright side the financial newspapers seem to think that the weakest of the tobacco companies, Wills, owned by the multinational British American Tobacco, BAT may be forced out of the market leaving only two companies, Rothmans and Philip Morris. Wills net profit for the half year fell 63% from $28.2 to $10.4 million.
Rothmans General Manager says the industry can support 3 marketers but only two manufacturers. Wills Corporate Affairs manager, Martin Riordan says no one will quit the market, and Wills is about to open a $42 million extension to their Sydney plant. At one point Philip Morris had 46% of the market, Wills 27% and Rothmans 26%. .BRW 31/7/95, SMH & AFR 27/7/95, Aust 28/7/95, Bulletin 15/8/95
Researchers Still Taking Tobacco Money
A NSW Cancer Council survey has found that 13 institutions still take tobacco funding for research. Prof Rob Sanson Fisher said that universities should not accept tobacco money under any circumstances. Yet 71% could not even recall a discussion of the ethics of accepting tobacco money, and only 5% had written policies precluding taking it. Seven out of 10 medical faculties did have such policies however. In 1992 tobacco funding from the Australian Tobacco Research Foundation was $570,000, with 11 of its 12 projects in the bio-medical areas. The Federal Governments Tobacco Research and Development Council funding to work on tobacco projects was $1,883,780 in 1991-2 financial year. Campus Review 2/8/95 .
Young Smokers Have 5x the Heart Attacks
A new UK study of 10,000 heart attack survivors has shown that smokers in the 30-50 age group have 5x as many heart attacks as non-smokers. Researcher Dr Rory Collins said 'When a smoker in their 30s or 40s has a heart attack, there's an 80% chance that smoking caused it'. In people in their 70s, heart attacks were only twice as common in smokers. AAP
TPC Rejects NSMA Submission
The Trade Practices Commission has rejected the Non-Smokers Movement submission that Rothmans putting '..Anyhow have a Winfield" inside the flip top packs of cigarettes was illegal under Section 51AB of the Trade Practices Act which prohibits 'unconscionable conduct'. NSM has appealed against this.
Report on WA Health Promo. Foundation
A new report evaluating the WA Health Promotion Foundation is available from Beth Bannerman, Dept of Public Health, Uni. of WA, Nedlands 6009 $30 incl. postage. The report from the Dept of Public Health Graduate School of Management found that the Foundation has been well administered, has had minimal political pressure and has resisted any that there was, and has made it funding decisions on objective grounds. It stated that it provides both a direct benefit to funded organisations in sport, arts and racing and also a behaviour change due to publicity for health. It has also doubled research funds for health promotion. It has also negotiated smoke-free areas or low alcohol beers in many sporting organisations in exchange for funds and this has set norms for some sporting areas where there are higher smoking rates and alcohol consumption. The culture change in the administration of these bodies is also an important educational tool.
Liverpudlians Show How on Child Sales
In the UK a survey of cigarette sales to children in 1988 showed that 100% of 45 retailers sold to children under 16. This was despite the Children's and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991 which required the Head of Standard Trading Services to ensure a satisfactory level of enforcement of the Act. A number of surveys of compliance took place using children from 7-13. By 1994 326 premises had been visited, with 69 illegal sales resulting in 62 successful prosecutions and 6 cautions. The last survey in 1994 had only 3 sales out of 100 requests. The group that drove the progress were 'Parents Against Tobacco', which has the Duke of Kent and Virgin Airlines' Richard Branson as patrons. Details Peter Mawdsley 44-(151)-225-3322.
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